6 months of change

Six months are how long it has been since I have posted. Six months of complete change, but yet everything is still the same. Six months of that roller coaster ride of life that has now become so familiar to me. Six months of everything. rolled into nothing that would be meaningless at this point to share. Sure, I have many blogs rolling through this overactive brain at 1 a.m. tonight: but to be honest with you, I am here for one reason, one blog, one heartbreak I am struggling to overcome.

Last week, my youngest son came home for a visit, it was difficult enough given that I have not laid eyes on him in 10 months, but to make it even more difficult, he felt the need to visit my ex husband while he was in town. It is easy to understand why, this man was his step father for 12 years of his life. We separated a week before my son left for basic training, he came home for two weeks last year and has not been home since. In his mind, he has not seen or have any knowledge of the interactions and heartbreak between his ex stepfather and myself. I have hidden from him the tears, the loss of self, and the heartbreak of a failed marriage, for fear of destroying his hopes and dreams of any future for himself. After all, this is the same kid, who when his father and I separated when he was 5 reacted by ripping the skin off of his lips, pulling out all of his eyebrows and peeing in his bed until his early teens. The psychologist told us what we already knew, it was in response to the stress created by our separation and divorce. I was careful in my single years after my first divorce of who the kids met and how much they knew of my “single” lifestyle because of his self determent and torture. When my ex and I met, fell in love and married, it was for life. He was to be the surrogate father of my kids and we had many discussions before we married on what his role as step father was to be and how protective I was of my kids feeling heartbreak. The year before my son left for the US Air force, he and my ex become the closest they had been in years. With all of this knowledge under my belt, when my son asked if he should call my ex and request a visit, my stomach turned with nausea. I didn’t know how to respond, my first instinct was to ask if he was crazy! Why would he want to see a man who had made no attempts to contact him in the one year and a half we had been separated and had no outside appearances of being damage at all by our separation/divorce, I wanted to ask if he realized how many hours his mother had spent lost, dazed and confused, crying with bouts of anger, depression and the horrid feeling of losing myself and having no one to blame but me. How painful it was when the man I had married sent my kids and I packing and never looked back? How painful it was that he depleted every picture, memory, emotion that we had ever shared out of his heart and his home in one short weekend and walked away with full composure? I couldn’t ask him these things, because he wasn’t aware of any of them because of my protection of his heart. So I answered as calmly and maturely as I could by telling him he was a 21 one year old grown man, if he felt he needed to see his ex step father, then he needed to make that decision for himself.

The only time I have laid eyes on my ex since our separation was in February of this year. Keith and I were attending a hunting banquet/fundraiser for a local charity. My ex has never hunted a day in his life, never had a desire to, so imagine my surprise when he walks through the door with his brother and a young blonde in tow. How could I be jealous? I was with my new beau of over 4 months, but I found myself angry and feelings of rejection washed over me. In August, just before my 40th birthday and on our 10 year anniversary, I had composed a heart-felt email, begging for forgiveness for the affair, asking for a chance to make things better and a simple request to “talk” about it. He never responded. It was in that moment that I knew it was over and I wasn’t sure if I was hurt or relieved. The pain of him not responding, the jealousy of knowing in my heart he had met someone else only four short months after our separation was overshadowed by the guilt of my affair and the loss of self-esteem at wondering if I had made a fatal mistake. To see him walk in the room with his new girlfriend only brought about more feelings of confusion. I had been miserable, he was cold-hearted, mean and narcissistic during our entire marriage, but I was overcome with doubt ,fear and anger. I watched them uncontrollably at every chance I could glance that was without Keith or the ex realizing it. The comfort between them confirmed this was not a new relationship, the affection the ex brother-in-law showered on her told me that they had been together over the holidays and she knew the family well. I wasn’t jealous, I was hurt at being replaced so quickly: but how could I confirm these feelings when I was the one who had an affair and had ultimately chosen the path that ended our marriage?

The night passed, time moved forward and in April (my last post) I was anxiously looking forward to receiving the divorce papers in the mail. In my mind, it would be over. Signing those papers would end the heart-break, the despair, the frustration of feeling that I will never be the same. I was dismayed when the papers arrived in May announcing my 30 days to contest the divorce before a court date would be set. 30 days, seriously? We had been separated over a year, property disputes were settled ( I had signed a quick claim to relinquish it all to him) and now our lovely court system was informing me it would be another six weeks due to the “process”. I had nothing more to do than to move on with me life.

In May, financially falling to pieces and unable to pay my bills and maintain my lifestyle, I reluctantly agreed to accept Keith’s offer to move in with him for a while. It was against my will, better judgment and all I stood for, but I honestly had no choice but to be grateful I had this man in my life who was willing to open his doors to help me out. To add to the mixture of the feelings of heartbreak I was still experiencing from the affair and divorce, I now had the humiliation and embarrassment of failing to support myself and depending on another, something I swore I would never do again. This made a huge dent in my progress to overcome the horrid story my life had become in the last year. I put my big girl britches on, smiled through the tumultuous battle and trudged on.

July 18th was our court date, it was a Wednesday. I had images months before of the day being a celebration. I had false Posadas of a huge divorce party, with cheers of hurrah and surroundings of family and beloved friends telling me how happy they were that I was out of this mans clenches and proud of the woman I was today. Instead, I awoke to drive to the beach (in moving in with Keith I gave up my island life and returned to the mainland) and cried for hours at the same spot I had cried for hours the day I packed my bags and left. In my heart and my mind, I was no further along than I had been on that same day. I was still lost, dazed, empty, scared and alone, only now, I had a piece of paper to prove I was OFFICIALLY alone!

One week after our divorce was final, I opened our local newspaper to be dealt another blow. During our marriage, we both attended college and entered the same career field. It was our dream to begin our own family business and build it to pass on to my kids. We had both spent hours upon years pouring over statistics and gathering the information needed to create our dream. My accounting background in check, I had spilt blood in putting together the perfect business plan and we both had sacrificed much time in presenting this plan to banks, schools, grant and loan companies, etc. in pursuit of our dream. Seven short days after our divorce was final, I open an email from an old friend and colleague enquiring about my ex’s new business venture. She informed me he had quit his position with the company he had been with for 10 years and had opened a new business in our town: in that day’s paper, there it was in black and white. HIs smiling face, in front of his new sign with the logo I had created and the business I had helped form the image of. I was devastated. What should have been proof of this mans cold, narcissistic ego: only broke my heart more and damaged my self worth all over again. I have wondered on countless occasions how long this had been in the works and the obviousness of nothing being releases until after the ink was on the paper, only answers that question.

The embarrassment of losing my career over my affair with my co-worker, the humiliation and self contempt of opening my heart to a stranger who devastated not only my life but my soul as well: mixed with the realization of the uncompassionate, cold-hearted nature of my ex has only made me weaker. I felt like I am my own worst enemy and no matter what choices I make, the fates are against me. The pursuit of a new career field, the accomplishments and accolades I have achieved in that field since last January have been overshadowed and lost by feelings of abandonment, self loath and an over all feeling of failure.

That day was July 25th. Since then, I have once again pulled my pants up to my chin, refused to allow any of this to bring me down and made life changing decisions. I relinquished my position at the communication’s center and accepted a part-time on call status with them. I applied and received a year scholarship to return to school and pursue my Criminal Justice degree. I enrolled for five full-time classes for the fall quarter, accepted a full-time waitressing position and have continued to work at the call center 5-10 days a month. It’s not necessarily ambition that is driving me, its more of an obsession to bring my life to some level of normalcy. I have built my savings account, paid off/down several bills and recently had my eye on a new condo in the same complex I left in June. My relationship with Keith adequate enough to make it through, my hearts desire is to be back on my own two feet and not dependent upon another.

With all that in place, I was excited to learn that my son would be home for a few days before he deploys in a few months to Saudi Arabia. My protective nature kicked in, he has never met Keith, though he knows of his existence, I did not want it to be uncomfortable for him to return to yet another home, another man, a life for his mom that he did not recognize. So I rented the new condo for  two days (my lease does not begin until Nov 1). We were at the pool, enjoying a beautiful sunny day, when he asked the question of contacting the ex. Before the air had passed my lips in answer to his question he had his phone in hand dialing the number. I don’t think I breathed for the entire three minute conversation. He disconnected the line and seemed excited that Chris wanted to see him to and was happy to hear from him. My son was set to leave the next morning to visit his dad for  few days and on his way out of town he was stopping by our old townhouse for lunch with the ex. He was excited to see the “old home” and was anxious to see our mini daschund that I brought home as a gift for my husband before we were even ever married. Jake was his name and to date I would guess him to be 13 years old now. My kids have not seen our family pet since the day we drove off in disarray, April 22, 2012. His excitement only made me more nervous to what he would find on his visit. I knew from out side sources the ex had moved all of our belongings out the weekend after we separated and repainted thw hole town house, I was in fear for how stressful this meeting may be. I never once dreamt of the phone call I would receive from my son after his visit ended.

He had left our old home, en route to his fathers when he called to tell me about meeting my ex’s new wife. A week after our divorce was final , the ex released the news of his new business: two weeks after it was final, he remarried in a small intimate ceremony….at the same church we had been married. Least I fail to mention, their marital date is two days shy of our anniversary of August 17th. That call came in six days ago and I have not been able to move past it. I have cried, cried and cried: my appetite has waned, all I want to do is sleep and my heart has hurt as much as it did the day I realized it was over. The hurt is overwhelming and I embarrassed to talk to anyone about it. Again, I feel stupid, how do I explain to anyone that I was the one who had an affair, I was the one who didn’t fight for my marriage, but I am the one who is experiencing complete devastation. And that in itself is the statement of the year. How can he not hurt? How could he pack my kids and my items, move us out in one short week, repaint his home and move on with his life? He packed all of our photos in my hope chest, he gave back the two wedding bands I had purchased and he never looked back. He never asked how we were! If we were financially struggling, never called the kids, or appeared to miss any aspect of our life. All the while, I am struggling. I cannot move forward. While he is sitting in the home we owned, with a new spouse: I am living in a rented room in my lovers home. I own nothing, not a couch, not a bed, nothing. All the while, my son tells me of the new furniture in the home, the surround sound TV, the new hardwood floors. I am struggling to find my place in life with a new career: while has taken our dream and opened his own business with the business plan that I created. I am trying to find faith in the human race, specifically the male species while knowing in my heart I will probably never love again, Keith and I have an amicable relationship in that we have both been hurt and destroyed by marriage and we share a respect for each others space, basically we are friends with benefits: while he has a new wife, to replace me, obviously his trust in marriage was not wavered by any of our experiences in the last 12 years.

I am deeply hurt, lost and angry that this hurts! I have no knowledge how to move through it. I feel that I take 2 steps forward and 3 back most of the time. Are there any others with the same experience? Feelings? if so, how have you made it through or what is helping you battle the struggle?

Advertisements

Finding peace

Its been quite awhile since my last blog. I can gratefully blame my absence on my new job, my relationship with Keith and day-to-day life. As time is moving forward, things are coming together. Time has changed to move forward: the days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer and I am excited to say that I am able to take my super long beach walks again. (Its time to battle off those 6 pounds gained this winter!) On those days where the turf beckons, I put in place my ear buds, hit the button for slacker radio on my cell phone, and trudge through the sand finding myself lost in the salt air and the sounds of the waves hitting the shore. It’s during those beach walks that life philosophy rushes through my mind. It is easy for my mind to stray and become consumed in any random thoughts of its chosing.My beaten walking path.

During my walk yesterday, it dawned on me, in just over 30 days I will be divorced. It’s hard to believe that it has been almost one year ago since that fateful day that my marriage ended. My mind began to return to memories that I would have rather forgotten at a certain point in my life: but ones that I am now at ease with and can gladly allow myself to return to from time to time. The randomness of my own internal conversation is one that I will not share with you, for fear that I might prove myself as crazy, but the topic is one that has lingered in my thoughts throughout the weekend.

I allowed my mind to roam over the 11 years that C. and I were married. For probably the 100th time since last April, I dotted from the first night we met, to the first few years filled with happiness, the years that I forced myself to believe it was acceptable to be unhappy because I was married, and the heartbreak of the last few years of our marriage as I watched it crumble out of my control. For the 101th time, I wondered why it took so long for freedom to find me and how I ever rationalized and convinced myself it was ok to be sad and lonely. For some reason I cannot explain, I began to think about an old co-worker. We had both been hired with the same company on the same day in 2005. We went through a lot of training together and we eventually came to know each other pretty well. He was an unattractive, ill-mannered, honorary sort of person, that made you wonder if there was ever anything in life that made him smile. His outlook was always pessimistic, his sarcasm flowed to the point of annoyance and his wife was exactly like him. They would go on vacations to exotic places and he would bring in photos filled with them on the beach, on cruises, at nice restaurants. etc. Not one of those pictures ever included a smile, hand holding, or their arms around each other. My manager and I would rudely talk about their relationship behind his back. The company moved him to our sister site ,just 15 miles down the road from us and the office rejoiced in knowing that his negativity and bad attitude were gone. For him, he welcomed the move. The place was a satellite office, he was the only person on staff and he welcomed not having to be around people. He and his wife shared the same mentality, they had no friends, partook in no social activities and lived in their own miserable isolation. Fate intervened, unfortunately, during St. Patty’s day weekend in 2008 when his wife died of a massive heart attack in her sleep. He was devastated. His world collapsed and many of us wondered if he would survive. As the months moved forward, we all took turns taking him out to lunch, bringing meals to his home, inviting him to social activities. At first, he refused our offers and appeared doomed to a life of isolation. As time moved forward, not only would you find his door open when you visited his home but we all began to notice his heart open as well. He began sharing his life story with us: from his mother dying when he was a very young age, to his father dying a year before his wife and his brother-in-law committing suicide just a few short months after his wife passed. He shared meeting his wife in NY at a very young age, not one of us ever knew that she was 15 years older than him. When they met, she was settled into her teaching career and he was just a lad not quite sure what he wanted to do with life. His wife convinced him to move in with her, she enrolled him into college without his permission or consent and slowly began to take control of his life. I have to assume, loosing his mother at such a young age, conjured up feelings of inadequacy in his heart and meeting an older woman, willing to take him in, guide him down the path of life and share her maternal instincts with him was very appealing at his young age. He was 17 and she was 32 when they married. At one point in his life, he had been happy, vibrant and full of life: he shared old photo albums with us and I almost fell out of my chair at the pictures of him smiling and having a good time. As we all became closer to him, we began to edge him on to go out to dinner, we put together on online dating profile for him, we convinced him to sell his fathers house and when he was ready, we all drove to his home and helped him box his wifes belongings. Over the last two years of my employment with our company, he became a very close friend of mine and my ex husbands. It was amazing to watch him transform into a man who I never imagined possible. As the years of our friendship moved forward, he shared stories of he and his wife’s life together, and we all began to realize just how controlling of a woman she had been. In the early years of their marriage, she had layed the groundwork for how they would lead their life, and she gave him the option of an early out if it was a life he did not feel he wanted. She did not like parties, church, festivals, basically any activity that involved having to be around people. She would work, pay half of the bills, clean and cook and in return, she expected him to work, pay half the bills and remain faithful. I was shocked to know, the last 10 years of their marriage, they slept in separate rooms. They were married 30+ years when she died.

In the beginning, I watched him mourn. He flowed through the patterns like clock work. He lost weight, he cried at the drop of a hat, he felt sorry for himself, he hated going home, he would not move anything in the house: for the first year after her death, he refused to sleep in the bed, he would sleep on the couch where she died. He carried photos of her in his pocket, in his car, on his desk; photos that had not been there before her death. It broke my heart to watch him in those first stages, he genuinely was devastated. That first Christmas, we literally yanked him by his ear, tied him into the backseat of the car and forced him into a Christmas social at the local Catholic Church. That night, I saw a spark ignite. It was wonderful to watch him excitedly begin to relish in a new life he had never known. He became a whole new man. He began to date, his social calendar was NEVER empty. Heck, sometimes we would go a month and not hear from him, only to find he had been on vacation for a week in Bermuda, met a woman there and brought her back to the States. Eventually, he began to date a woman who had no traits or comparisons to his deceased wife. She was vivacious, full of life, laughed all the time and feel head over heels in love with him. They became engaged, he sold his house and the last time I talked to him, they were living in Virginia near her son and he was enjoying being called Granddad. (he never had children)

I began to wonder why his heart led him to lead a life of isolation for so many years, denying himself the life he longed for. What made him be accepting of existing and spending his days brimming with unhappiness and negativity? Why would you spend over ten years of your marriage, never touching each other, sleeping in separate rooms? Did he ever long for laughter, a soft touch from his wife, a tender hug or that look of passion that you share with someone who knows your soul? How many days did he spend, convincing himself it was ok and acceptable , just because he had found a life of daily routine and a comfort that he was afraid of losing? It took almost two years to convince him to break that comfort zone, but once he did, you cannot imagine the differences in him.

I look at the differences in myself since a year ago. I remember the loneliness, emptiness and just plain sadness that I carried in my heart for years. I remember feeling unloved when my husband would berate me, I remember feeling unworthy when he would aggressively insult me and I remember wondering what I had to do to make him love me. I changed everything about myself for him and he still never loved me like I needed him to. I changed my friends, my beliefs, my appearance, my daily activities, etc. By the time I realized the err of my ways, there was a comfort in the sadness. I could depend on being lonely, I was not let down anymore at the rejection it had become my crutch. I convinced myself because he did not physically hit me, cheat on me, do drugs or drink to excess that I would be a fool to leave. Because he could present himself in the public as such an upstanding person, he had a great job, and we could afford things I could never have on my own, I bowed my head and accepted my life. I accepted my fate and I learned to live with all of it.

As I was returning home, ironically, I passed a gentleman walking his dog that carried many resemblances to my old co-worker. I came in the condo, logged onto my Facebook and searched his name. As I was scrolling through hundreds of profiles looking for a familiar face, there he was. His face stretched in a “possum eating” grin, happiness radiated through the computer. His arms wrapped tightly around his new wife, hers around him and they looked happy.

I have no regrets. My life has led me to a great place of peace and I may not be here if I could go back in time and change anything. I am a work in progress but I have pride in myself. I know who I am and the things I want and I am willing to work hard and honestly to get them. I have made mistakes, I have made bad choices, but bottom line, I forgive myself. I have to. I am loveable, deserving and human and I will accept no more than what makes me happy.

I , by no means, am comparing myself to someone who has lost a loved on in death. Instead, I have revisited too many times the death of my marriage. I have mourned, I have cried, I have carried guilt and anger. Now its my time for happiness. I forgive myself and I open my heart to the many wonders of the world that I have yet to experience. In honor of my friend, whose radiance I envy, I trust myself enough to carry me through my future. I can do this!